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A search for my two keywords that make up the phrase for my domain show my site listed as #5. Meanwhile the sites listed in positions 1-5 are missing one of the keywords. Makes no sense why they should even appear not mention above my site.
Can anyone explain this?
There is also some semantic secret sauce going on in Google, where closely related phrases can occasionally get triggered by their related single keyword -- but in most cases, it's much more likely to be the influence of the text on linking pages.
This can be a little "crazy making" because Google doesn't give you anything near a complete backlink report. If you want to track down the details, you need to use another search engine to research the pages that link to your competitor.
Forgetting that it effects my sites position it pisses me off that many searches I did today for a project I am working on yielded bogus results without the keywords.
btw - that should read 1-4 above.
The semantic secret sauce you refer to is being used by Google extensively with Adwords
I agree with you -- especially in Adsense content network placement.
how many generations back would you say does it affect the results?
I pretty much proved it for two generations last year - to my own satisfaction at least - but I never looked further. If it's there for two generations, it seems mathematically that it must be iterative beyond the 2nd gen. But the effect I saw faded rapidly with just the second generation, and it also seemed to be less strong after Jagger. Not worth tracking back any further.
Somewhat related oddity: for a short period when BigDaddy first began rolling out I saw some really wacky sites high in the SERPs.
The cache page said the term appeared only in links pointing to that page, but it definitely did not (not even on a 2nd gen link page). It was a completely irrelevant and off-topic result, with only a typographical similarity to some letters in the keyword. Almost looked like stemming gone bad, but the cache was reporting that there was a linking page connection.
Imagine a page about "playing hookie" coming up high for a search on "okie dokey" -- that's like what I saw. I'm glad it was short lived -- that bugger was a big global brand with over 100,000 backlinks
We're talking about one little corner of the big picture here. and Google's total algorithm is complex. But when it misfires for a while, you can sometimes get a deeper glimpse into the anatomy or structure of the algo. (And when it misfires for a long time, it can make you crazy.)
So evidently keywords in the meta tags, titles or in the article do no matter when performing a search. As long as they are in the Google directory that has the keywords in the directory name they show in results.